Today is, of course, a day of remembrance of what was a life-stopping event, for most of us. Twenty years ago, I finally understood what it was to yearn for the coming of the Lord. I saw the world as it really is: full of evil and suffering. The day the towers fell, the horrors I saw, even just from a distance on the television, were more than enough to make me realize that I didn’t want this world to be my home. This is a challenge because for the time-being, it is my home. All these years later, I am still trying to figure out how to live for Christ in the midst of everything happening in the world.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”Matthew 6:19-21
My efforts to lay up treasure in heaven have had a side-effect: my treasure has become heavily invested in Haiti. There is a map of Haiti on my living room wall, surrounded by the pictures of the children my sister and I sponsor in that country, through Compassion International. While the eyes of America have been on storm damage at home and turmoil in Afghanistan, I have spent the past several weeks heartbroken for Haiti. Political corruption and instability, along with a propensity for natural disasters, keep this country in constant turmoil. On Saturday, August 14th, Haiti was hit by another large earthquake. As soon as I located a map of where the epicenter was, I knew which of our children would be most affected. It was only last year that this same area was affected by tropical storm Laura, and five years ago, it was hit by hurricane Matthew.
Days after the earthquake, when much of the population was completely without shelter, yet another tropical storm hit. My heart breaks to think of families huddling outside for hours while the storm poured down ten inches of rain on them. Few Americans can even comprehend this misery. I only have enough of an idea to be horrified. It is no coincidence that these events happened while I was reading the book, Trusting God. It brought me to the conclusion that trusting God meant believing that He had a purpose in this situation for His glory and the good of those He has called. But even as the book and my prayers brought me to this place, I asked God how I could possibly encourage my children to trust Him when His hand seems so heavy upon their country.
God’s answer was different than I anticipated. This past week at work, I had to advise someone that we would not be able to complete a transaction for him because of the situation in the country where he lives. His response epitomized the kind of faith that I have been reading about and praying for. In my mind, this man living in difficult circumstances was now facing an additional problem. But in reality, followers of Christ living in the crucible of adversity aren’t fretting over little problems like this. As indicated in my customer’s response, they are trusting God to provide for their needs and carry them through their difficulties. Because of adversity, these believers understand their dependence on God for all things, and know first-hand that He is faithful.
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”Matthew 6:31-33
Too often, in the first world our ‘afflictions’ are mere annoyances or barriers to our comfort. Or, we consider it a trial as we worry over what the future will hold, given the events of the day. We fear the loss of our freedom, wealth, and the things we hold dear. But this is a sign that we are treasuring the wrong things. While Christians around the world live in poverty, under the strong hand of corrupt and oppressive regimes, we twist in angst that our lives may someday be like theirs. I do believe that we need to be vigilant and do whatever we can to promote freedom and preserve the traditions of our nation. But we need to learn from our brothers and sisters who already live in dire circumstances. Faith is not some add-on to their lives that helps them get by. Faith is their way of life. While we fret over what we will wear, eat, or drink because we are concerned with looking good, believers who are poor know to look to God to meet their needs, and not to fret over the details. It is a challenge for us who are in the top one or two percent of the world’s wealth to trust God. Often we worship our comforts rather than the Comforter, and we don’t know the difference between what we want and what we need. We aren’t prepared to trust God if He takes everything we have away.
So, it has occurred to me that the faith of the children I sponsor may well be stronger than my own, already. And as I consider the faithfulness of God and the tremendous wealth that He has given me as an American, I want to figure out how I can invest more in His Kingdom. I am praying that God will help me to live with greater faith, trusting the fate of the nation and the world to His hands and investing my life and my treasure more fully in His kingdom.